• 09 Nov - 15 Nov, 2019
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

The Terminator is an action classic and T2 was one of the greatest sequels of all time, but none of the films that followed came even close to matching it. Until, perhaps, now. Dark Fate feels like a real Terminator movie at last, from the breakneck, deeply terrifying chase that opens it to its moving finale. This was never just Arnold Schwarzenegger’s series; it’s Linda Hamilton that’s the key ingredient.

Helpfully, this film takes true narrative risks. Mackenzie Davis’ augmented human fighter Grace comes from the future but it is not the one of John Connor and Kyle Reese. So T2’s happy ending stands, sort of, but Judgment Day still looms, and time travelers still try to change the past. Grace has come to protect Dani (Natalia Reyes), a fierce factory worker who faces losing her job, along with her brother Miguel (Diego Boneta), to automation (robots, eh? The worst). They’re joined by Sarah Connor (Hamilton), recognisably still the tough-as-nails fighter of T2 and a veteran of many past Terminator battles.

Their foe is a ‘Rev-9’ model, a sort of 2-for-1 Terminator with the metal skeleton of the original and the oozing liquid menace of the

T-1000. Unlike similar previous incarnations, however, he’s capable of functioning in both forms at once. His opening assault is astonishingly tense, brilliantly communicating the impossibility of escaping these creatures. There are callbacks, both subtle and very much not, to the earlier films through the film’s thrilling chases, and even the structure of the (impressive) action faintly echoes T2. But these are amped up to include C-5 cargo planes and a pleasingly destructive visit to one of the U.S. border detention camps, and augmented by VFX that are generally so impressive that you can forgive a few poor moments.

As familiar lines are spun in new ways and we build to a heavy metal clash of a finale, this occasionally leans too heavily on the homage but mostly, remarkably, feels like a worthy descendant rather than a cheap cash-in. Sarah must challenge her presumptions, Grace must learn a sort of peace after a lifetime of war, and Dani finds a faith that will serve her well in the years to come. For the first time in a long time, we can look to the future of Terminator with hope.